Friday, April 20, 2012

Your Life; Your Genes by BOSS Member Princess Carey

Aside from lifestyle factors and dietary intake, your genetic makeup plays a major role in determining whether you are susceptible to certain chronic diseases such as obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. Your genes control everything that makes you unique such as your eye color, hair color, height, and your genes even control the way you processes your nutrients. When you consume food it is broken down throughout your digestive tract and is absorbed into your bloodstream and transported to the cells in your body. Once the broken down nutrients enter your cells, your DNA (which is inside of the nucleus of your cells) directs these nutrients on where to go & what they will be made into (glycogen stores, proteins, etc.). Your genes control the way your cells grow, develop, and maintain themselves….inevitably controlling every aspect of how you function as an organism.

Genes contain the codes that control the traits you express; they even contain the certain codes that may make you susceptible to certain diseases. Although your genetics do play a major role in determining if you are susceptible to a certain illness or not, it is usually a combination of dietary, lifestyle factors, and genetics that overall influence your risk for certain illnesses. Even though you might have family history of a certain disease and are more susceptible to it given your DNA makeup, this does NOT mean that this is your destiny- you can modify your lifestyle and dietary intake to prevent certain illnesses from occurring. Certain diseases that are known to have a genetic link include forms of diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer, hypertension, colon cancer, and osteoporosis. Also, obesity has a genetic component to it so if you are at risk for obesity it would be best to be sure your eating healthy and exercising daily.

To be able to recognize your risk for certain diseases would be extremely helpful so you may change your lifestyle to be sure you are using preventive measures if you are at risk. A great way to do this is by making a family tree (also known as a genogram). When making a genogram, you want to be sure you are going through your relatives (parents, siblings, grandparents, and aunts& uncles) and noting if death has occurred and if so, what was the cause of death. Also, you want to be sure to note any one of your family members that are living with a chronic disease so you can best assess your susceptibility. People that are at high risk for certain genetically-linked diseases include those who have two or more of their first-degree relatives (your siblings, children, and parents) that have a certain illness. Also, if this illness occurred before the effected relative reached 50-60 years old, this increases your risk greatly.

Scientists now are working on Gene Therapy which consists of fixing the “damaged” DNA that may lead to certain diseases; however, this is a long, complicated process and will take years of testing before Gene Therapy will ever be readily available to the public. Genetic Testing is also available to the public, which is another option to determine if one is at risk because of their DNA for certain diseases. Overall, remember: Your genetics are NOT your destiny. You can combat your risk for disease by eating healthy, exercising, and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.

For more information and to start your journey onto a healthier lifestyle path please email and visit

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